Cultivating Weeds: The Place of Solitude in the Political Philosophies of Ibn Bājja and Nietzsche

Philosophy East and West 70 (3):699-739 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This article re-exams the old tension between the philosopher and the city. Reading Ibn Bājja’s Governance of the Solitary and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra against the background of Plato’s Republic, I argue that they both embrace several key aspects of Platonic political philosophy: the assumption that philosophical natures can grow spontaneously in sick cities, the ideal of the philosopher legislator and the correlative project of founding a virtuous new regime. Yet in preparation for this final task, each prescribes a regimen of solitude for philosophers, so that they might preserve their own health and autonomy. While this spiritual exercise at first appears merely temporary and provisional—aimed at the cultivation of a philosopher ruler and the eventual establishment of a healthy political regime —I argue that both Ibn Bājja and Zarathustra ultimately abandon their Platonic ambitions and opt instead for the apolitical contemplative life.

Author's Profile

Peter Groff
Bucknell University


Added to PP

552 (#25,557)

6 months
185 (#11,680)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?